Is there an ‘End’ to Philosophical Scepticism? 1

Lilian Alweiss 
a1 Trinity College, Dublin


P F Strawson advocates a descriptive metaphysics. Contrary to Kant, he believes that metaphysics should be ‘content to describe the actual structure of thought about the world’, there is no need of postulating a world that lies beyond our grasp. We neither need to refute nor accept scepticism since we can ignore it with good reasons. Yet this paper argues that Strawson fails to provide us with good reasons. He fails to realise that one cannot do metaphysics by construing its claims as being merely descriptive of a conceptual scheme we find ourselves to possess without even purporting to establish the legitimacy of that scheme. The paper shows that it is possible to overcome this impasse if we endorse Kant's transcendental idealist position. The significance of Kant' position is that it not only allows us to describe our conceptual scheme but moreover that it acknowledges that the world may be (radically) otherwise without however instantiating the truth of scepticism

(Published Online October 13 2005)


1 I am grateful to Steven Kupfer for his helpful comments and should like to thank the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences for providing me with a year's fellowship which has made this study possible.